WOW! It was such a rush just to type that number – 365 photographs posted with not one day missed throughout the entire last year. And today, for no reason other than I met her and she was so fun and engaging, I chose Sylvia, the accordion and spoon player at the German restaurant where we decided to celebrate this accomplishment. But that’s what this project is about – highlighting women who I encounter every day and honoring them through photography and recognition.
Sylvia has been playing the accordion since she was 10 years of age and she recently turned 60. She said that she is “honored to be a girl” and it sounded like she started her own accounting business just so she could show the boys that she could do it (yes, she plays the accordion AND does accounting). She sang a song in my honor, thanks to my girlfriends who requested that we celebrate in style, and started off the evening with toasts, followed by more toasts and singing!
Thank you, Sylvia, for being the 365th woman photographed. Thank you to all my friends and family who supported and encouraged me throughout this process. Thank you to everyone who followed along and shared the women in your lives with me. Thank you to all the women who allowed me to photograph them and who shared their stories of inspiration, accomplishment and joy.
I’m not sure that I’ll be able to stop photographing women so please don’t look at this as the end, but as the beginning of a lifelong journey to becoming the best portrait photographer of women that I can be.
“What inspires me:
The love I have for my closest friends and family. The kindness and warmth that comes with that love, and the profound desire to care and be cared for by those you love and whom love you. Also my sister, who is physically and mentally handicapped from birth, despite all her challenges, enjoys, appreciates and loves life more than anyone I have ever met.
Effortless happiness and love for life and those in it.”
– Jess, who I met today on my way home from work in Georgetown.
I met Patsy in 2007 when The Department of Justice bestowed upon her the Special Courage Award, and a few weeks later the FBI honored her with their Strength of the Human Spirit Award for her continued efforts toward justice for victims of crime. I interviewed her for the tribute videos that were produced for the award ceremonies and instantly fell in love with her. She has traveled the world as a teacher for international schools, yet for all her wisdom and experience, she is forever approachable and humble. She survived a terrorist attack that left her husband and fellow school teachers dead, yet she is the embodiment of compassion and love and happiness. After the attack she worked in partnership with the FBI to bring the terrorists to justice and still refers to the agents assigned to her case as “her agents.”
I admire her strength and kindness more than words can say and am truly grateful that she calls me her friend and makes time to see me whenever I am in Washington, D.C., where she now works for the State Department coordinating services for other victims of crime. She is photographed below in the middle of the “world” outside the National Archives and above in the metro next to a map of the District.
“I love marketing for Eco Friendly Foods because I like bringing fresh, healthy meats and eggs to my customers. And I’ve met the most wonderful people! (i.e. Reg)”
– Stacy Hecker, Marketing Director for Eco Friendly Foods, photographed Sunday morning at the farmers market near Dupont Circle. Her effervescent personality was magnetic and her crush on Reg, the handsome gentleman who works at the stand across the way, was endearing.
“I am inspired by life itself and all the beautiful things life has to offer. There are many places to go to and people to see, so every day that I wake, I just look forward to seeing how my day will turn out and what interesting places I will go.”
– Nicola Rhoney, who I met this evening in Victoria’s Secret in Washington, D.C., as I was trying to replace the underwear that was lost in my missing suitcase. The models in the photographs that are plastered big and bold throughout the store did not take away from the honest beauty that I saw in her kind face.
Today I visited Iver’s pre-school class in Washington, D.C. where I met 19 children ages 2-5. Their angelic faces lit up like Christmas trees whenever “Ms. Ricks” walked into their field of view. The atmosphere was energetic yet peaceful, playful yet disciplined under Iver’s calm instruction. She has been teaching for 37 years and her love of children has only grown exponentially throughout that time.
Maria teaches 4th grade reading in a Washington, D.C. public school. She is photographed here with her girls as they admire her humor and spirit. What a joy it was to be in her classroom! As you can see, this week I’m spending a lot of time in school because I’m producing seven short films highlighting the meaningful work of highly effective teachers in the District of Columbia. They are the best of the best and it’s been a week that has made me fall in love with school for the first time in my life. What a difference a great teacher makes.
“Working with students inspires me to think of innovative ways to teach them. I love helping individuals with the challenges that appear to the untrained eye as ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘they can’t do that’. I have the ability to encourage children and teach them, ‘Yes, YOU CAN.’ I love teaching.”
– Roaenetta Mayes Browne, a Highly Effective teacher at Sharpe Health School in Washington, D.C.
A little girl with severe disabilities that prevent her from speaking through words, reaches out to communicate through touch. The perseverance of the human spirit to connect inspires me beyond words. This little girl is more courageous that I will ever be.